Monday, July 20, 2009

Hooray for First Aid!

When Markus and I took a refresher First Aid class just before baby Stephanie was born, our teacher opened with a story of two young mums she had encountered recently at a local cafe. Talking and gesturing with her hands, one of the women knocked a freshly filled hot cup of coffee off the table and into the pram with a baby. Neither of the mothers nor any of the cafe staff knew what to do to help the poor screaming infant. Thank goodness our First Aid teacher was there!
That story stuck with me. Knowing first aid and remembering it at the crucial moment are often different things, and I have worried from time to time that my memory would fail me when I needed it. Today, I got a good test, thankfully on myself and neither of the girls. I reheated a cup of tea in the microwave while chasing kiddos, and clearly, the cook time was too long! When I reached in to lift out the mug (with baby Stephanie wrapped around my leg), I immediately noticed how over-hot the mug was. Not wanting to make any sudden moves and slosh the liquid onto either of us, I as-quickly-and-carefully as possible moved the mug to the countertop...but that took enough time to sear the everlivin' crap out of my thumb. I immediately turned on the sink to ice cold water (thank you winter pipes!) and let it run over my thumb and fingers. The thumb was stiff and turned white instantly. So there I stood with the ice cold water running over my thumb, thinking, "Well, this is the moment! And I don't remember what to do! What did she tell us to do for burns? I can't remember!" After several minutes, I switched to a glass of ice water with some ice cubes floating in it so I could get a phone and call Markus to ask what he remembered. And the answer?
Submerge the burned area in cold (ideally) running water for 20 minutes.
I really didn't think I remembered what to do, but clearly I did remember. I acted instantly and, although the burned area is still white and very damaged, I probably saved my thumb from extreme nastiness, as the cold water dissipates the heat and prevents the burn from getting worse (did you know that burns continue to worsen well after the heat source is removed?). I highly recommend everyone take a basic First Aid course if you haven't recently done so.
Oh, and don't grab too-hot porcelain with your bare hands. That's a good take-home tip too.


Karly said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you burned yourself, but really, really glad that you knew what to do!! I need to take a First Aid course, thanks for the reminder that all of us should.

schlelly said...

I had a friend who fell asleep in front of a tanning lamp my freshman year of undergrad. She came running into my room because her face was swollen and I was the only 'pre-med' student on the hall. Sadly I had no idea what to do so we consulted others... one person told us to use 'sea breeze' because that always cooled her sunburns as a child - the 'sea breeze' name made us think this may do the trick so we doused her face in astringent. Then she looked pretty red so we decided to soothe her skin with cooling lotion. Well, we finally called the school health center when it opened and low and behold - we'd done the two absolute worse things we could do! We stripped her face of natural moisture and then trapped in the harmful heat with what amounts to a sealant. She ended up with 2nd degree burns that she covered with Aloe gel for a week. The swelling finally went down after a couple of days she freaked a few people out when she ventured from her room with a slimy green face. I sometimes wonder if she learned her lesson or if she still uses tanning lamps...

the dipe squad said...

Oh Meghan, your story made me cringe! Astringent cools because of the alcohol! And the cream to seal it...oh dear! The sad part is that what you did then (harmful but with good intentions) was probably more than most people would even attempt. Basic First Aid is so important! We keep a reminder booklet on the front of our fridge. For some reason, it didn't even occur to me to look there when I burned my thumb. That's why I'm so glad the lessons from the course stuck in my subconscious! My thumb actually looks pretty good now, just a few days later. The white is blister (obviously) and the burn was bad enough that it blistered instantly, but the treatment was good enough to prevent it from bursting or worsening. It doesn't even hurt now. Again, hooray for First Aid!

Anonymous said...

How dreadful! SO SORRY you were injured! So GLAD it was not any worse than it was! SO SO GLAD no one else injured! SO proud of you for taking care of it so fast and so well while in pain! Smart girl!